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Zen means “action with awareness”. PAR approach to golf: Preparation: Keys to preparation are – Clarity Commitment Composure Action: The ideal state of mind for action is Feeling confident Focused In the flow - with mind and body synchronized in the present moment Results: The best response to results is one that enhances future performance.
Clarity – o o o Having a vivid image of the shot you intend. The part on the mind that runs the body does so by images. The clearer the image, the more likely that your body will produce it. Although visually oriented, can also include feel and sound. Whatever you experience in your mind’s eye. The more vivid the image, including sight, sound, and feel, the better you intuitive mind can direct you body to produce it.
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Both the target and the path the ball will take to get there. In preparing for a golf shot, the best way to use the power of sense perceptions is to make as vivid as possible the visual, auditory, and/or kinesthetic (bodily sensations or feel) image of the swing and target. Commitment: Being free from second-guessing, doubt or hesitation. Commitment involves believing without a doubt that the plan you’ve made – the image you have, the club you’ve picked – is the best one. Be 100% optimistic about and committed to your shot before you make it, and then 100% realistic (and forgiving and kind to yourself) about the results. Commitment is a natural part of any action; with no interference, our bodies and minds are committed to the same target. o Doubt leads to confusion, anxiety, or both. o Trust brings comfort and ease, and that allow you to go and swing freely. o When we clear away the clouds of fear, doubt, and hesitation, our natural commitment will shine through. Avoid the anyways- anytime you feel uncommitted to any part of your planned shot – the club, the line, the shape of the shot – and go ahead with your stroke, that’s an anyway. Composure: Being calm and focused. Poised and at ease. Excessive muscle tension is an obstacle to making a fluid, powerful golf swing. There needs to be just enough tension to maintain our posture and hold onto the club as we swing, but any more than necessary interferes with the flow of the swing. Scan your body (top to bottom or bottom to top for tension). Common areas to find tension buildups are jaws, tops of shoulders, hands, and deep belly. Just noticing where the tension is can often dissolve it. Breath – imagine that each breath you take flow in and out through that area of your body, as if it is ventilating the tension. Clear away as much tension as you can before you play the shot. A key to the relationship between tension and relaxation is the body-mind feedback loop. The mind not only directs the body, it gets feedback from it as well. o As long at the tension lingers, when the mind checks on the body, it recognizes tension and figures that “we’re still in danger”. However, if we breathe fully to ease the tension in the body, when the mind checks on the body, it recognizes the lack of tension and concludes “we’re not in trouble anymore”.
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The ideal state of mind for action is confidence, focused, and in the flow, with body and mind synchronized in the present moment. Turn over control of the shot from your thinking mind to the intuitive mind that runs your body, stay in the present, and trust your swing. Being in the present means focusing only on the shot at hand. When a round is going well and then turns sour, thought of past or future are usually the culprit. For the best execution of golf shot, body and mind need to be synchronized. When we are using the thinking mind, self-consciousness interferes and body and mind are not synchronized. When the intuitive mind is in control, body and mind are synchronized. Intuitive mind is the basis of habits. Once we’ve learned a sequence of movements through repetition, we don’t need to direct each step consciously. For players who need a swing thought, it is better to have one that describes what you intend to do rather than how you intend to do it. When body and mind are synchronized for a golf swing, they are unified in purpose, presence, and focus. They are functioning in the same place at the same time. Worrying about how a shot will turn out can interfere with synchronization of body and mind. Having made your plan with the thinking, conscious aspect of mind, you need to turn over control for the execution of the shot to the intuitive, subconscious mind that runs your body. The aspect of the mind that does the best job of running our body does it through images. When you play golf, do your best to have a clear, vivid, and precise image of where you want the ball to go, and trust your body to send it there. Clear your mind of any negative images of what you don’t want to happen, replacing them with positive images of what you do want as the outcome. To get control that leads to consistent accuracy, you have to give up that conscious, intentional type of control: your thinking mind trying to direct your muscles. The intuitive mind is what gets control. It’s the expert at running the body, and it exerts beautiful control over the tiniest muscle movements if it is not interfered with by the thinking mind. Having planned your shot and selected your club, stand behind the ball near the spot where you’ll start your swing routine. You’re going to make a programming swing. Produce the specific movement you want to make. Having made your programming swings, there is no longer any need to think about that move. Stand behind the ball, get your image of the shot to the target, take and release a full breath, and walk up to address the ball. Trust your intuitive mind to do its best to include the “programmed “move, and swing sway. Page 3 of 5
Thinking mind operates by using concepts and words. It analyzes and calculates. It sort through the information that comes in from the senses and internal feelings, comparing it to information remembered from past experiences. Thinking mind does and excellent job of synthesizing all this information into a plan for action. In golf the thinking mind analyzes information about distance, lie, wind, humidity, and past experiences. It calculates risk versus reward. It makes decisions and plans. This aspect of mind thinks about what is happening in the environment. It also thinks about what is happening in our body and our thoughts. That’s what we call self-consciousness. Intuitive mind directs the body without conceptual thoughts. A third facet of mind is critical mind. It is a special function of the thinking mind. It evaluates, judges, and gives descriptions in terms of good and bad. This aspect of mind is necessary part of the learning process. Evaluating the results of our actions provides feedback for the thinking mind to make the next plan and for the intuitive mind to make subtle adjustments in body movements. However, the critical mind becomes our own worst enemy when it goes beyond constructive feedback and becomes linked with negative emotions.
Response to Results:
The best response to results is those that reinforce success and help you learn from mistakes without getting down on yourself. Golfers need to reinforce positive experiences and learn from negative ones. Our nature is basic goodness, which includes the capacity for awareness and the impetus to learn and grow. We must make sure we clear away obstacles to the optimum conditions for learning and performing in golf. Negative self-doubt creates tensions that block us from relaxing, and swinging freely. Getting caught up in emotions of anger, frustration, envy, or depression creates clouds of turmoil. The combination of intentional and nonjudgmental awareness works to change a wide range of habits. We have to establish our intentions to overcome undesirable habits. It is necessary that the awareness we bring to bear be nonjudgmental. We can change habits of body, speech, or mind. Ways to change habits – Write the name of the habit and make a tick mark each time you notice the behavior you want to change. You can support the habitchanging process by positive reinforcement as well. Give yourself a pat on the back by making a chick mark for a “good catch” each time you catch yourself about to do the habit you intend to change. On your scorecard write a phrase that describes your habit: club tossing, temper tantrum, hissy, fit, etc. Make a mark each time you engage in the habit, without judging yourself. If you have a strong intention to change, the habit will recur less
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and less. And you and you’re playing companions will enjoy the game more and more. The mental skills necessary to play your best golf need to be learned and “grooved” just as good swing techniques do. Proper mental habits need to be ingrained to supplant unhelpful ones. One such unhelpful habit is the tendency to focus on the negative, which needs to be replaced by accentuating the positive. When our mind has anxiety or fear, our body feels tight and agitated. When we are discouraged or depressed, our body feels heavy and sluggish. When we are confident and at ease, our body feels energetic and responsive.
In golf we often fall victim to impatience. Golfers have a tendency to look for the secret, the magic tip, that will make the swing work perfectly, instantly, and forever. They want it all and thy want it now. But it doesn’t work that way. Like anything in life, if you haven’t addressed the fundamentals, quick fixes don’t hold up. There’s no substitute for repeating good habits with awareness until the movements become natural. Practice with a purpose, practice with a plan, practice with patience. If you’re working on something, have the patience to feel confidence in it before you take it out on the course. Train it until you trust it, and trust it before you try it.
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